El Futuro’s mission is to nurture stronger familias to live out their dreams. We do this by receiving people here in North Carolina who are hurting, often from the effects of traumas suffered in their home country or on a dangerous migration to our community. We provide timely mental health treatment to help children and families heal and live brighter futures. Many of those we help relate to the families who are stranded and suffering in camps along the Mexico-US border, either through their own experience or that of their friends and extended families.

In mid December, I heard a podcast episode about the families at the border titled “The Out Crowd” by This American Life. As Christmas approached and stories were told of the magi taking gifts to the baby Jesus, I imagined taking gifts to the children at the border. The idea struck a cord with friends Maria Luisa and Tim Wood and we contacted The Catholic Charities’ Humanitarian Respite Center which is located on the Mexico-US border. They provide a place of refuge for families to rest, have a warm meal, shower, change into clean clothes, as well as receive medicine and other supplies. They desperately needed warm winter clothing to share with the families, many of whom were living in simple tents.

Maria Luisa, herself an immigrant who came from Mexico, expressed it well when she said, “We cannot forget the suffering happening at our border. My heart goes out to the mothers, fathers and children who are spending Christmas far away from their families.

Tim Wood who lives in Cedar Grove and attends the Cole Mill Road Church of Christ. “After all we’ve heard in the news this year about the mess at the border, it was hard to celebrate Christmas without doing something to help out.”

At that point, El Futuro, Scrap Exchange, Catholic Charities and the Cole Mill Road Church of Christ teamed up to gather warm clothing.

We were excited to partner with these proactive community agencies to extend our mission to the families in refugee camps and detention centers on the US-Mexico border as a reminder that they are worthy, loved, valued, and not forgotten, and that there is hope for the future.

Many donations were collected – several palates full that filled a trailer and truck. Friends from all over the community came to drop off the clothing at the Scrap Exchange. Several groups in particular put together clothing drives: Carol Woods, First Presbyterian Church, Soccer.com, and Cole Mill Road Church of Christ.

 

Many from our community came to a candlelight vigil held on Christmas night to stand in solidarity with refugees at the border and around the world.

Artist Cornelio Campos was one of those who gathered. It delighted me to see my daughter Hannah next to him at the vigil!

Here I am standing in between my friends Tim Wood and Maria Luisa who organized the donations and the candlelight vigil.

The trip to the border takes 22 hours from Durham if you drive nonstop. We drove Tim’s big Ford F250 diesel super duty truck with a U-Haul trailer.

On day two we stopped at a movie theater in Houston to rest and watch the new Star Wars movie. When we came out after the movie, the truck and trailer were gone – stolen! 

My daughter Lilliana expressed feeling like the families at the border – stranded a long way from home, scared, and having so much taken from her. We talked about the word solidarity and what it means.

A local church heard about what had happened and wanted to help us complete the mission.

The Clear Lake Church of Christ in Houston quickly mobilized to take up a donation from their members and neighbors. The donations poured in filling a trailer and church van! Jaime and Elizabeth Arize are seen here making an announcement and giving a blessing for the mission.

On Monday morning we arrived at the Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen to unload the donations from so many in Houston who gave generously.

At the Respite Center we received a call from the Houston Police who had found Tim’s truck and the trailer! All of the original donations were untouched and the truck and trailer were in excellent condition!!!

Members from the church in Houston, Cesar and Julia, drove the donations down to the border.

 

 

Our goal was to take donations and raise awareness. Through the mishap we were able to take twice as many donations to the families at the border.

We were also able to raise awareness. Two of the major TV stations in Houston (the third largest city in the US) and a station in Raleigh covered the story throughout the day on New Years Eve.

And Univision covered the story…

before the trip and after the trip

We’re proud of the great work of El Futuro – helping people who have come such long journeys. It was a special treat to join with Scrap Exchange, Catholic Charities and churches here in Durham and in Houston to bring support to those stranded on the border.

 

Here are scenes from cities along the border – McAllen and Hidalgo: